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PR and Marketing: Does Combining Them Boost ROI?

Sep 26, '19 / by Beth Carter


Public relations and marketing are basically the same thing, right?

While there is some overlap, PR and marketing have notable differences. And it’s these differences that when combined, can result in a flood of positive attention and eager leads.

Don’t believe us? Read on to learn exactly how it’s done.

What Is the Difference Between Public Relations and Marketing?

  • PR supports the overall reputation of the brand by way of direct and media-driven communications with the public at large. A great day for a PR person is one where their client generates front-page, positive news with top media outlets.
  • Marketing, on the other hand, supports sales teams, and focuses not only on promoting the overarching company brand, but on specific products and services. A great day for a marketer is one in which a piece of marketing content hits the first page of Google, ranking for a highly sought-after keyword and generating a bunch of great leads to nurture.

Fortunately, like chocolate and peanut butter, marketing and PR are even better when combined, especially when talking about content-driven inbound marketing. The shared focus on building crafted messaging and stories allows them to strengthen each other, boosting each other’s strategies and efforts.

Combining PR and Marketing: A Q&A with Moss Networks

At Clariant, we’ve partnered with Moss Networks on projects for several of our clients, for precisely this purpose. We chatted with Bonnie Moss, the President and Founder of Moss Networks about why PR may be the missing link from many inbound marketing strategies, and what can result when the two practices are combined.  

Q: Are there certain companies that are a better fit to use PR in conjunction with their inbound marketing strategy?

Really, any company can use PR! But what we always say is this: If you don't have a strong website, then there's no point in us sending eyeballs over to you. Ideally, any website traffic sent to you via PR should then be further nurtured through a strong inbound marketing lead flow on the site.

In addition, to implement a PR strategy, a company needs to have a strong foundation and know who their audience is. Knowing your audience and building your brand message are the keystones of an inbound marketing strategy. If the company has those, we can make sure that what we're putting out on the PR side correlates with the message they are putting out on their website or in their sales material.

Q: How can you use PR to complement your marketing efforts?

Here’s a great example of how PR can be used in complementing marketing efforts. Our mutual client ClearSale, an e-commerce technology company, came to us because while they were well-established in the Brazilian market, they were just launching their US operations and came to us for PR support.

We started off by making some recommendations to them about their website and then focusing on thought leadership activities to establish their presence. Interviews, articles, media outreach – all of that. And then the strategy evolved to include content marketing like white papers, e-books, and blogs. We soon realized how much they would benefit from a full-fledged inbound marketing strategy, at which point we introduced them to Clariant Creative.

Now, they have interviews, features, and articles published in multiple trade journals, podcasts, and online magazines. But they also have an ever-growing stable of marketing content that brings in leads and nurtures them into customers. Now, we’ve got blog swaps happening because so many people are reaching out to them because of the activity on their blog, the content that's being put out, and the reputation for thought leadership that we’ve all worked together to build. So, it just kind of starts generating more activity and evolving within itself.

Q: Measuring PR efforts can be tricky. How can marketers expect to measure whether their PR investment is worth it?

PR is a hard thing to measure because it's not like sales where you can draw a straight line to the revenue coming in.

However, there are ways to measure the effectiveness of your PR strategies. We now have available to us programs that measure different KPIs such as engagement of the reader, tone, share of voice, and even the value of the outlet placed. Additionally, when clients get placement in top tier outlets in their market, it brings a level of credibility to their brand that I think is somewhat priceless, as that coverage continues to work for them. But, I would say the most worthwhile investment as a PR firm is when you hear directly from the client how our efforts are generating leads, such as when they see a lead come in from an article we placed or an interview they read.  

Q: How long does this effect last? Can you do PR as a “one and done” effort?

When you see companies cut PR, you see the impact on so many fronts. It's almost as if their websites are just dead because there's nothing going on anymore — no news, little updates, no new content. Cutting PR not only affects websites and inbound marketing, but it also has an effect on social media, and ultimately, on lead generation.

PR works best when it's consistent, as each action builds on the one before to generate not only new media opportunities, but new business opportunities as well. You certainly could do a singular press release, but that won't make the lasting impact for your brand that you would want from your PR strategy. The real, long-term impact comes from integrating your PR and marketing efforts and keeping them active and synchronized. All of a sudden, you'll see the momentum building and  your share of voice increasing, and that's when you really start to see the magic of PR! 

Q: So, where should marketers start if they want to build someone’s thought leadership or PR outreach?

First, look at what that person is an expert in, and what places and people are aligned with that. You can be a thought leader anywhere, but you want to be a thought leader where your target audience exists, otherwise you wind up attracting a lot of traffic and attention from people who aren’t a great fit for your organization.

So, you want to look at where your audience exists and then you just build it slowly. Maybe you start doing some blog posts. And then if there's something that you think you can speak on, write an article and start pitching to appropriate outlets to see where you can land yourself an opportunity. I think it's just baby steps.

It also comes down to the content you're putting out. It's not just enough that you're deciding that you want to be a thought leader. You have to have something really important to say that's not self-promotional, but that educates audiences. Create something of value that people actually care about.

Q: For somebody who is an experienced marketer and wants to take their PR to the next level, what steps would you recommend that they take?

Hire a good PR agency, because a major component of PR is having relationships with the outlets and knowing how to speak to the teams that you're pitching. Media, whether online or print, is a very, very competitive space these days. The same outlet you were pitching five years ago that would have taken your content right away is now inundated with so many pitches because everybody's doing content marketing now.

It takes a savvy PR expert to know how to navigate through that and it takes really, really good content to get through all that clutter too. I would say make sure you have excellent content and a solid website, and then work with an expert who has the relationships and can amplify your brand story.

The key is to not to try to do all the things. The best way to get a great ROI out of a PR and marketing combo is to use the expertise of the people who are around you. Create the stories that matter to your audience and then combine your forces to get those stories in front of the right people. That’s how you build trust, how you build thought leadership, and how you build an audience that can’t wait to see what you say next.

Free ebook: The Inbound Marketer's Guide to PR Strategy

Topics: PR and Media

Beth Carter
Written by Beth Carter

I love to write and I'm a total grammar freak. I also passionately believe that conversational, approachable and insightful content can help people solve real problems and can make a real difference in the world.

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